You may have heard the term ‘growth mindset’ before, but do you really know what it means? It is often interpreted as people willing to learn, change or grow. This is true, but it is actually much more than that. Someone with a growth mindset believes that they can improve their knowledge and skills, and by proxy their professional performance, through personal effort and action.
Carol Dweck of Stanford University was the first to coin the term. In her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she showed how an individual’s mindset is related to where they think ability comes from. Growth mindset people believe people can change. They are also the person who sees a setback as an opportunity; that through failure we can learn and improve.
A ‘fixed mindset’ person on the other hand believes your ability to succeed is fixed, that you are born with innate intelligence, skills or talents, and you cannot improve on it through hard work. A fixed mindset person struggles to grow and improve because they think they inherently cannot be more of the person they want to be – and they may find themselves intimidated and defensive around those who are.
The defining factors of a growth mindset
Having a growth mindset is essential to be able to actively embrace the lifelong learning that leads to professional success. The good news is that, because of brain plasticity, you can teach yourself to adopt a growth mindset at any time of your life. Here are some growth mindset attributes and how to get yourself into that way of thinking.
Every day is a school day
The growth mindset thinker likes to learn and is open to any opportunity. Faced with a situation you don’t understand? Ask questions. No one expects you to know it all and they won’t judge you for wanting to find out.
Effort leads to mastery
It is true some people are born with natural talents for things like singing or writing – but they still had to put in hard work to be a success. And there are many more who had no obvious natural aptitude but worked hard to achieve it. There is no reason why you can’t improve or learn something new if you put the effort in.
Challenges help me grow
A fixed mindset individual might shy away from a challenging situation professionally, deferring to someone else who they feel is more up to the task. But growth mindset people will step up and embrace the unknown – taking on something difficult is the best way to learn.
Feedback is useful
There is of course a way to deliver feedback, and no one should have to put up with rudeness. But for many fixed mindset people all feedback is criticism. Growth mindset people will see feedback as constructive – even if it isn’t delivered with much grace. Ask yourself, what can I learn from what others tell me?
Failure is temporary
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again is the ultimate growth mindset adage. Failure is just a chance to refine your technique or understanding for the next opportunity.
Change is dynamic
Don’t be fatalistic. Yes, change is part of life, but look closely, where is the opportunity?
Be inspired by others’ success
You truly know you have a growth mindset when you can look at another successful individual without an ounce of jealously and ask, ‘what can I learn from this person?’
Want to get more of a growth mindset? IMNZ offer a variety of courses to help embrace lifelong learning.